It's difficult to decide what to include on this post. I've been in the Florida Keys launching Island Sting while connecting with scores of other "greenies" for the past several weeks. I don't know how to prioritize the exciting experiences I've had and photos I've taken. But I'll give it my best shot.
I kicked things off at the National Key Deer Refuge Visitor's Center http://bit.ly/96IlRa on Big Pine Key. A wonderful chance to see old friends and make new ones. The taxidermy specimen behind me on the left is a much larger buck than average, but the tiny fawn in the case is normal size. If you click on the photo you can enlarge it and just make out its head. Look closely to find the little Key deer in the photo on the right. He's wearing cammo. I promise you there is NO food in my hand. He could be the very deer that caused Kenzie to wreck her bike in chapter 8 of Island Sting. Alison Higgins, (Friends and Volunteers of the Refuges--FAVOR, Nature Conservancy, and Green Living and Energy Education, guru) arranged for the Visitor Center to provide Island Sting for tween and teen readers.
Next I co-sponsored a fundraiser at the Key West Wildlife Center http://www.keywestwildlifecenter.org/ a wild bird rescue, rehab, release program connected to a lovely natural growth park. Michelle Anderson, the director, and I became fast friends. We held a children's environmental art contest and gave copies of Island Sting to winners and to their schools. I awarded two of the winners, AJ and Raven, their books at movie night on a cold, cold Keys evening in the heart of the Key deer refuge. Join the Key West Wildlife's Facebook fan page http://bit.ly/aTwXBF .
I learned far too many tragic tales of pelican deaths, but happily joined in a pelican release after the center was able to nurse six of the birds back to health. I've also been observing a new resident, a rare, white-phased, juvenile short tail hawk, from the day it was brought in by a local family. It was injured and traumatized, but now it is eating and strong enough to be feisty and threatening. Isn't she gorgeous? She's puffing up to scare me away!
I traveled to the Marathon Sea Turtle Hospital, http://www.turtlehospital.org/another of my favorite rehab, rescue, release wildlife hospitals to update my research for Stakeout. Richie Moretti and Ryan Butts generously spent time with me to share their tales of triumph and tragedy, many of which you can read in Stakeout when it publishes January, 2011. Scooter, a young loggerhead, is one of their education turtles. Scooter washed ashore in a storm, but will be released when he reaches around 20 inches in length. He's waving to you!
I hope to share more stories of my adventures in the Florida Keys where I continue to collect stories and data for my green teen eco-mysteries. Thanks for reading, and please support your local wildlife rehab organizations. If you don't have one nearby, KWWC, FAVOR, and Marathon Turtle Hospital always need donations.